Saturday, November 29, 2014

Evening Before "Ironman Cozumel" Day

Logo for Ironman Cozumel

November 29 

Here we are, already Saturday, race day tomorrow, Jeff and Kari are kibitzing about  their prep for the final few hours before the starting gun goes off tomorrow morning - at 6:52am for Jeff in the “all men over 50” age group, and Kari at 6:55am for “all women over 50.”  I asked Jeff how he and Kari could swim together if he starts three minutes earlier.  “Maybe I’ll just tread water until she gets going in the swim.”  As I’ve shared before, the impetus for this adventure has always been “to do this together.”

Both "kids" are strong swimmers; however, they don’t consider themselves at the top of their respective categories, having a substantially energetic style with endurance to spare.  I've been watching them swim together these last few days - their stroke-style is very similar and they look beautiful in the water (mom speaking!). Their objective is to swim the 2.4-mile distance in somewhere around an hour and a half.  Each group “wave” will walk into the water and walk/swim out about a hundred yards from the shore in anticipation of the starting gun.  Having done my share of open-water competition, I know the start can be intimidating, what with the crush of over-anxious athletes all vying for a great position without interference from other over-zealous swimmers.  [My parents were not swimmers, but were conscientious about making sure that my brother, Jim, and I had lots of swimming lessons very early in life; so, as parents, my husband and I were steadfast in teaching our three kids to be substantially water-safe - before they could walk!]

In a previous post I indicated that the swim course would be out-and-back; I’ve been told it won’t be - it’ll be a point-to-point swim along the coast for the 2 ½ miles.  The logistics are carefully planned to decrease bottle-necks as much as possible.  Our Chief Cheering Team (CCT- comprised of Alice, David, Mimi, Avery, Tate, Spencer, Malia, and Samantha) has decided we may have to forego the swim start in order to be present for the location where the swimmers will exit the water and transition to the bike race.  I do know the bike race will be three laps around the circumference of the island, each lap over 37-miles.  The plan of the CCT is to maintain a position fairly close to our condo complex, outside of the “all roads closed” center of town population crush.  We’ll see Jeff, Kari and other EPIC Tri athletes three times as the whiz past us, hopefully with a big high five, a smile and a strong continence.  I think we can expect them to be riding at a pace of around 15 mph, for a total time for the112-mile distance of around 7 ½ hours.  The end of the bike segment will be right in the most touristy part of town.  And, as the transition from bike to run gets accomplished, they'll head out to run a marathon (26.2 miles).  The running course will be three out and back loops, finally finishing right in the heart of town by the convention center.  There can be lots of variation in time for the run; Jeff and Kari plan to stay together and cross the finish line hand-in-hand somewhere in the neighborhood of 9pm.  

We'll be there to cheer them on those last few feet, during which time, as they near the finish line, the announcer will identify each contestant, announcing in a loud voice, "Jeff Sherman, you are an IRONMAN!"  "Kari Duane, you are an IRONMAN."  You can bet Jeff and Kari have heard those words over and over during this year of extreme training, especially on those difficult days when it might have been easier to head back to bed in the early morning, rather than hit the road, pool, lake, bike path, etc.  

They've done the work, managed their diets, stayed as healthy as they could.  They're ready.  It looks like the weather is going to cooperate:  high of 77F, partly cloudy, only a slight chance of sprinkles, light breeze.  Bikes have been delivered to the transition spot where they'll get to them and their gear from the water at the completion of the swim.  Also, gear has been delivered to the area for the bike-to-run transition.  All areas are under heavy guard to ensure that bikes and gear are not tampered with or stolen.  That would be disastrous.

Here are a few catch-up pix; I think tomorrow is going to be too busy to do much posting.  But, I hope to get some good pix with my new iPhone 6+.
Her parents think Avery looks the most like Mimi

Deck outside living and dining rooms and kitchen

View of one of the pools and out to the Caribbean's warm and lovely water

Pool right directly below our condo

Another view of the larger pool.  In the foreground is mangrove swamps.  It appears that the whole island
was originally mangrove forests with millions of iguanas that very little fear of people.  They also have very little
interest in what we're doing here in their territory

David rented a dune buggy for a few thrill rides for the kids yesterday afternoon
L to R:  Tate, Malia, Avery, Spencer, and Samantha

More beach volleyball.  This is Samantha and Avery playing
against employees - they tied
Jeff and Kari heading out for one last swim this morning, before the big day tomorrow
This pix was taken from our deck three stories up before the three of us went to the beach
for a swim a few mornings ago

This is the traditional Ironman logo.  The 140.6 is the total number of miles
accomplished in the three events!!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cozumel - Two Days Before “I” Day!

Thanksgiving Day was comfortably warm and quite windy; however, we gave “thanks” for all the fortunate components of our lives.  The morning began with the beginning preparation for the holiday repast, Cozumel style.  The unstuffed Mr. Tom Turkey, weighing in at 6.8 Kilograms (almost 15 pounds), went in the oven before 9.  The idea of stuffing was relinquished in favor of dressing, without our traditional seasonings and spices, baked in a casserole the last hour of the roasting time.  Jeff made his specialty mashed potatoes, David sautéed green beans in butter and garlic, Kari tossed a deliciously fresh salad, and I made about two quarts of turkey gravy.  These delectables were accompanied by Mexican dinner rolls, “bolillos,” canned cranberry sauce from Wisconsin, fresh pineapple grown here on the island, and finally, great family and friends discourse and camaraderie.  We shared our dinner with five other athletes:  Bita and Shakufa (accept my apologies for spelling blunders), Amanda, Damon, and Aaron.  We wish all of them well in the upcoming competition.

After dinner, Amanda offered to take a snapshot of the Sherman-Duane family for our reminder of the day and the wonders of another holiday season . . .

L to R:  Avery, Jeff, Samantha, Malia, Alice, Tate, Kari, David, Spencer, Mimi.  It's one happy family missing only Kari and David's three oldest girls and one fiancee:  Quinn, Landon, Addison and Holland. 
The party was interrupted by the athletes’ need to register retrieve racing bikes for Ironman Cozumel, so two or three cars left here for the 6-mile jaunt into town and Kari and Jeff riding their race bikes back to the condo at about 5pm.

Then, of course, for us Californians, there was the 49er game, broadcast here at 7:45pm.  Some of the crew went back into town to join the revelry in a local sports bar and some of chose to stay here and relax, with lots of conversation, and enjoy the end of yet another family Thanksgiving.

The over-the-top games for all the kids and most of the adults is beach volleyball, which they've played with abandon, even encouraging participation of some of the staff members. It'll create wonderful memories for all of them.

Also missing, especially for me, was my youngest son, Spencer, who's currently in Brussels with his girlfriend, Rachelle.  We missed you , SJ!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day - Cozumel Style

November 26th and 27th

Cozumel, Days Four and Five

David and Spencer arrived this afternoon from their overnight stay at the Westin at the Dallas Fort Worth airport.  And, yes, they did deliver my shoe, safe and sound and none the worse for wear, or travel, I should say.  So, our group has increased to ten, a full house here at Residencia Reef.
Spencer, upon arrival, delivering my "lost" shoe
Kari and Jeff, along with one of Kari’s EPIC Tri clients, Amanda, did another very short workout this afternoon, a very windy day indeed.  As we move closer to the Ironman on Sunday, the weather may not be cooperating, as we’ve been hoping.  The wind today has been very strong and tomorrow’s forecast is for the same; today’s temperature only reached about 70F (21.1C), tomorrow we expect more wind, but warmer.  Sunday’s forecast, at this time, is partly cloudy with thunder, lightning, and possible rain.  Rain doesn’t bother the athletes for the swim or the run, but riding 112 miles on a bicycle can be really unpleasant in the rain.  We’ll just keep on praying for the Great Spirit to make the weather good for Sunday.  They’ve been doing a lot of training in California central valley heat and the Cozumel Caribbean water temp negates the need for a wetsuit; it’s just that bike ride that calls out for pleasant weather.  Oh, I’d add that the run could be unpleasant if the wind continues to be strong.

Alice, David and I, as "chief observers" are beginning to make our plans for where we want to be at various times during the race; covering so much territory makes the logistics of being in the right place at the right time for catching a glimpse of our athletes as they fly by in need of planning.  I continue to be impressed with just how tranquil the athletes seem to be; I’m guessing that Saturday might be a day of self-hypnosis for all the athletes - just getting into that zone they need to be in to even THINK about going the distance.  I love them both and only hope they’ll come through it unscathed and full of wondrous gratitude for the opportunity to accomplish this feat together.

The twins and the triplets are all here now and the attraction during the day is beach volleyball.  All five of them are volleyball players on high school teams, so they really get going with some good competition.  And, Alice is right in there with them; she’s a real sport, well actually, she’s a kid at heart.
Avery and Malia on the volleyball court (sand)
Tate (in foreground) and Malia ready for anything

This evening was my turn to make dinner, so we had a great lasagna made with Jeff’s spaghetti sauce from two nights ago with lots of ricotta, Monterey Jack and Parmesan - not a speck was left in the casserole at the end of dinner.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be grateful for.  First, in this holiday season, I’m thankful for my three children, their spouses and significant others, and 8 wonderful grandchildren who are proudly carrying the torch into the next generation.  And, eleven months from now, we’ll welcome Landon into the family when he and my oldest granddaughter, Quinn, tie the knot in October 2015.  I’m a very lucky person. 

Thanksgiving Day, 2014 

Cozumel, Mexico

Yes, we’re preparing a close-to-authenic USA Thanksgiving dinner: roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, large salad - the works - maybe even a pumpkin pie, if we can find one at the store.  Otherwise, it's going to be Cozumel rum cake, not an all-bad replacement! I got up early and to get the bird in the oven in time to serve dinner about 1pm.  Jeff got the potatoes in to boil and mash (with a fork!), and Kari and I made dressings, without all the familiar spices. After that, Jeff and Kari left to get to race headquarters into town to register and receive their packets of information and numbers, etc.  Later this afternoon, they'll head back into retrieve their bikes that have been transported from UC Davis, where they delivered them two weeks ago.  They’ll ride their bikes ‘home’ to the condo and that will be their Thanksgiving workout, about a six-mile easy ride, taking them less than 30-minutes!  Oh, to be in that .  And, they want to be home in time to get a group to the sports bar in town that will be showing the 49er game, at 7pm our time.

Wishing you and yours a
very happy and healthy

Mary-Pat (AKA Mimi)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday in Cozumel

Oh, life in paradise. This morning I rolled out of bed really late for me (9 o’clock!), had a relaxing cup of coffee and met the “mujer de la casa," Genny (pronounced somewhat like Henny);” Genny comes with the condo contract and stays most of the day making sure that everything is in order and clean throughout our large abode.  She can also be asked to cook, although we haven’t felt the need - so far, that is.

After the leisurely coffee klatch, Kari, Jeff and I headed to the beach and went for a swim.  Or, rather, I should say that I paddled around inside the buoy line while they swam a short half-mile swim, just to keep those highly trained muscles warmed up and loose.  Although I consider myself a swimmer, I’ve never been really comfortable in “open water” because I can’t see the black line on the bottom of the pool!  But, at least I got in and learned the lay of the land, or sea in this case, and maybe swam a grand total of of sixty yards; now I’m feeling OK to swim by myself in the luxuriously warm and calm water.  Kari and Jeff estimate the water temperature is somewhere over 83F (around 28C).  We’re used to northern California beaches and water, in the neighborhood of a very chilly 53F (11.6C) with terrifically strong surf and current. The lovely, clean, white, sandy beach right outside our condo is strewn with lots of lounges for lazy reading / tanning days. The water is crystal clear and inviting; however, there’re some kelp-covered rocks in the shallow water to get over before one can begin to swim.  Swimming with goggles makes it easy to see tiny up to mid-sized fish darting around nibbling wonderful delicacies off the rocks and seaweed.

While the three of us were swimming, Alice took the four cousins for a walk down the beach to a spot where they could get “henna-ed,” on one foot; it’s supposed to last up to three weeks and they seem excited about their lovely designs, each one different.

Then we all piled into the rental car, eight of us, but that’s nothing compared to entire families riding on one moped!  The drive into town is only about six miles, parked the car and scouted out a real Mexican restaurant for a wonderfully flavorful lunch.

L to R:  Avery, Malia, Samantha, Tate - cousins forever!
Chicken tacos
Mexican style flank steak
Deliciously fresh fish tacos

Sauteed shrimp and vegetables
L to R:  Malia, Samantha (twins), Avery and Tate (triplets)

Kari helping the advertising campaign for the event next Sunday
 After lunch, really dinner, Alice and Kari took the girls out onto the beach-side shopping area, where they, with about a million other tourists, went from shop to shop to purchase the tchotchkes tourists always know they have to have and then don’t know what to do with when they get home!  Believe me, I know all about it, as I’ve done my fair share of feeding the economy in many countries around the world!

What’s so appealing to me about this adventure is how relaxed and non-stressed we all are, even those two very gung-ho triathletes we’re here to watch.  Brother and sister, Jeff and Kari, are both seasoned Ironmen, each will be competing in his/her fourth Ironman event.  And, we’ll also follow some clients of Kari who are members of her EPIC Tri Club.  [If you’re interested in finding out about EPIC, click Here

This evening we’ll roast some hot dogs and have a casual evening, maybe play some Charades, and hit the sack in preparation for another busy day tomorrow.

Just a couple of off-the-subject-notes:  When we got to the airport in Sacramento I found that my luggage was overweight, so I moved all my shoes to Avery's bag.  Then when we stayed overnight in Dallas, I took all my stuff out of her suitcase so she could get to her own clothes.  I guess I didn't get one brand new shoe back in, as it's still there in Dallas.  Fortunately, David and Spencer are staying in the same hotel tonight and will pick up my shoe for me!!!!

Mimi's one shoe in Mexico

And, lastly, I thought I'd include a photo of the newly blond ME!!!!!

Stay tuned - more to come!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cozumel - Island of the Swallows

From Wikipedia:
Cozumel (Spanish pronunciation: [koˈsumel]Yucatec MayaKùutsmil, English: Island of the Swallows) is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatán Channel. Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities(municipios) of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The economy of Cozumel is based on tourism. There are a number of visitors to the islands balneariosscuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

Kari, Avery, Tate and I arrived at the international airport in San Miguel de Cozumel, on the island of  Cozumel, yesterday afternoon, after having flown from Sacramento to Dallas on Saturday and spending Saturday night at the Westin Hotel right outside the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.  Sunday morning we flew from Dallas directly to Cozumel, avoiding having to do the ferry ride from Cancun, on the Yucatan peninsula, to the island.  Jeff, Alice, Malia and Samantha joined us last night; we picked them up at the ferry landing; they had flown fro San Francisco yesterday morning.  Kari's husband and son, David and Spencer, will bring up the rear on Wednesday afternoon, due to inter mural basketball commitments.

David had researched and found this lovely condominium complex, actually outside the real touristy downtown area.  We knew we were going to have a large group of family members, and this condo sleeps 10 - 12 comfortably.  

Jeff and Kari have completed all the really difficult training for their Ironman endeavor next weekend.  This week is for resting and only exercising a minimal amount - to stay in Ironman shape.  And, Cozumel is readying itself for the onslaught of athletes and spectators that either have, or will soon descend on this little bit of paradise.

Cozumel covers an area of about 250 square miles.  I don't have all the facts about the Ironman itinerary planned for the competition; what I know so far is that the 2.4 miles swim will be an out and back course off the western side of the island (between it and mainland Mexico) with its mild conditions as far as temperature and current go; but heck, it's still two and a half miles folks!  

The 112 mile bike ride will be three laps around the circumference of the island, each lap approximately 37 miles!  Jeff and Kari shipped their bikes almost two weeks ago and are anxiously awaiting their arrival on Thursday.  Kari and I went to Ego Gym in town today, she for a light ride of ten miles; and me, a 45 minute walk on the treadmill.  

I don't have particulars about the marathon - will describe the course as soon as I learn what it is.

Today was a take-it-easy day; we all slept in, an adult-style trip to MEGA, the Walmart-like shopping bonanza in town, where, between the four of us, we managed to accumulate a plethora of victuals for the likes of this varied group.  Jeff loves to cook, so he made the Sherman family Spaghetti repast for this evening - it fit the bill perfectly for all of us.  We also bought ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner - with some substitutions for unavailable commodities.  I know we'll love the holiday, and the fact that we're spending it in our little place in paradise will make it all the more memorable.

On a personal note, because I was preparing everything I thought I'd need for my extended adventure, I didn't bring my camera; instead, I'm planning to use my new iPhone 6+, as the camera is supposed to have a higher resolution, etc. than earlier models.  We'll see - I've only snapped a few shots so the jury is still out on how the snapshots turn out - or not!

Happy Monday of Thanksgiving week.  I give thanks for my wonderful family and all the wonderful memories we'll be making this week in Mexico.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

¡Viva Mexico!

Hola Todos:

Finally, the day is here!  We're leaving for Cozumel!  For me it's the beginning of yet another wonderful adventure, exploring this great world or ours.

This morning daughter, Kari (better known as "Super Woman"), the triplet girls, Tate and Avery, and I will fly out of Sacramento to Dallas for an overnight layover; then, tomorrow morning a couple of hour flight directly to Cozumel.  My son, Jeff (better known as "Super Man"), his wife, Alice, and their twins, Malia and Samantha, will join us at the large house we've rented on the island.  Wednesday, bringing up the rear of the family will be David, Kari's husband, and Spencer, the third triplet.

Before I say anything about the adventure itself, let me share that tomorrow will be the triplets 15th birthday!  Boy, we surely couldn't have fathomed a trip like this in that November of 1999.  Beginning new adventures is always exciting, hectic, and a little nerve-rackng.  Trying to coordinate all the particulars of a very large athletic event mixed in, as well as the fact that this sojourn in Cozumel is only the start of my own personal wanderings, is quite a feat!

More about all the happenings as they come up.  Right now, I'm trying to get the last "STUFF" in my luggage - Yikes!  Hold on to your hat, there's more to come as soon as we get the first contingent to the airport on time.

Hasta Tarde ('Til later . . .)

PS:  Lacy and Eleanor are safely 'visiting' dog groomer, Tammie, at her house in Lincoln, CA; they have another Standard Poodle, a Miniature Poodle, and a cat to keep them company.  I miss them already!